Never known as an eager champion of Christians or conservatives, the American Civil Liberties Union has recently accepted a case that appears to be a notable exception to that rule.
The ACLU of Tennessee is acting on behalf of an elementary school student who was told that the Bible is off-limits during an after-school reading program. Apparently, administrators believed – or wanted the student to believe – that allowing him to open God’s Word during the free-reading time would cause his school to lose its government funding.
Of course, as the ACLU pointed out in a letter sent to the Cannon County school, that argument is absurd.
“Tennessee public school students cannot be denied the right to engage in religious activities during student activity times, recess and other free time, provided they do not cause a disruption or interfere with the education of other students,” the letter explains. “Reading the Bible, or any other religious text, during a free-read period would fall within these protected freedoms.”
The legal group issued a request that school employees receive training regarding the religious liberties students have while on campus.
“ACLU-TN has a longstanding commitment to uphold and defend Tennesseans’’ ability to practice religion, or not, as they choose,” said Executive Director Hedy Weinberg. “The goal of our letter is to clarify … what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of how of how the Constitution protects religious liberty.”
As the Christian Post explained, there have been several recent cases of young children being deprived of the right to express their religion within school. Advocates for Faith and Freedom is a group of attorneys representing two such cases – both involving six-year-old kids in California.
Isaiah Martinez was told he could not pass out candy canes containing a Christmas message to classmates in his West Covina school, while a Temecula student was prohibited from discussing Christ’s birth during a class presentation.
The group’s general counsel, Robert Tyler, explained that school administrators and staff are too eager to rule against religious liberty.
“It’s time to push the pendulum back in the right direction where kids can experience true tolerance without religiously motivated hostility from their teachers and school officials,” he said.
Unfortunately, many of these unconstitutional rules are being enforced upon students too young to realize they can – and should – object. Fortunately, groups like AFF, and even the ACLU, are willing to stand up for the First Amendment rights of all Americans.
Photo credit: Ginger (Flickr)